DJ Kemo remembers brother Sazon Diamante
Vancouver, B.C. – This February marks the ten-year anniversary celebrating the life of Sazon Diamante – a well-loved Vancouver MC and brother to the legendary DJ Kemo – whose untimely death shook the Vancouver scene a decade ago. Fortune Sound Club will host the event, which is by-donation and open to all, and Diamante’s friends and family will take the stage in his memory. HipHopCanada had the chance to sit down with Kemo to talk a little about the upcoming party, the tragic history, and the way that his brother helped shape the hip-hop scene here in Vancouver.
“Every year we do the party to commemorate and remember him, in tribute to him. It’s a good time for us to get together and celebrate his birthday.”
HipHopCanada: Can you tell us a little about your brother, and the music he was making before he passed away?
Kemo: He was turning 23 at the time. He was murdered- over reasons I don’t want to get into – and he was rapping with another fellow, who’s part of the Black Phoenix label, Global Syndicate. He and Primero – or First – they had a rap group in 1995 called Nitwits. He was rapping from that time. They never completed a full album, they dropped a single or two and a 12-inch in ’96 and then he was just doing his solo thing a few years after that. I was helping him out where I could. He never really asked for my help much cause he never really took it serious. After he passed away I decided I had to do a 12-inch and put it out. One track called “La Calle” – The Beat at that time, when they first started, they played it a lot.
HipHopCanada: Did Sazon have any influence on your musical production?
Kemo: He definitely got me into Latin music. And it’s funny cause he’s the younger brother, who was born in Canada, but he was more Latino than both me and my older brother. And by the fact that he went to a lot of Latino clubs and Salsa clubs, he kind of influenced me as far as collecting and DJing Latin genre. And after he passed away, he influenced me in the sense of keeping me focused and driven to do what I want to do. It makes you realize you’ve only got so much time on this earth and every day is a blessing.
HipHopCanada: Are the performers at this event people who were close to Sazon?
Kemo: Pretty much all of them. A.M.P. are good friends of mine and my brother’s – HNIC, Dru was really good friends with my brother. Most of the guys performing were good friends with my brother: Pablucci, Andres, obviously Red1 was part of the family. My brother was 13 watching us in my basement when we first formed Rascalz. We put him on two tracks. One track called “Borderline” with Concise, and then a few years later after he passed away I took one of his verses from an unreleased track with Primero and put in on the Rascalz record.
HipHopCanada: Does it feel like it’s been ten years?
Kemo: Time flies. After ten years I guess it does feel like ten years. The beautiful thing about putting that on a record is that it will last for a long time.
HipHopCanada: And this event is a free party?
Kemo: We’re doing donations, just worried about covering some costs – fliers, sound man, wanting to do up some t-shirts. It’s for the homies and people that are friends of ours to come celebrate. They may not have known my brother but they’re still family and it’s all for a good time.
Words and Photo by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada.